“As a behavioral scientist, I appalled (sic) that you would make such an insipid statement. Seriously, Robin, I thought you were better than that.” – Nisah T.
The above is an untouched, unedited e-mail to me about the article I wrote last week on Quiet Quitting. I didn’t change a word or leave any parts out. Now, here’s my response:
Technically, it wasn’t a statement – it was an article where I was giving my thoughts to my subscribers about a new label for an old problem: a lack of work ethic and personal integrity.
If you find that appalling, I imagine you walk around dismayed quite a bit, given that I’m clearly not the only person who finds the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ shameful. To quote Mike Rowe, it’s a “monument to passive-aggressive behavior” toward your employer. If you read my article (did you actually read it?), you would have seen that I have no issue with someone taking a job where the minimum is required and drawing a boundary with an employer – BUT if you have personal integrity, or if you’ve lost all desire to deliver “A+” work, you should tell them that BEFORE you take the job.
Let me break this down.
When you take a job, you make a deal with your employer. They’re paying you to do a job well, and you willingly, openly, and freely agreed to do the work.
As an employer, I’m not interested in hiring people who only want to do just enough not to get fired. I want people who love what we do, love the people they work with, and bring their “A” game to the table. Quality work done with excellence. That’s our culture, and it’s not for everyone, for sure. I think most business owners would agree with me on this point because no one wants someone who “quietly quit” handling our valued clients or doing important work in our organization. Such attitudes are cancer in the workplace, creating resentment, low standards, faulty work, poor quality service, and a general malaise that infects a company’s culture for the worse.
But what if your employer asks you to do more than you’re being paid to do or that you feel is unfair?
Well, you have a few choices. One, you can draw a line, refuse to do what’s being asked of you, and remind your boss, “I’m not getting paid to do that.” Many won’t do this because they know they’ll get fired, so they take the low road and say yes to the work, but then, in a passive-aggressive manner, put forth the least amount of effort possible. They quietly quit. This is the option I take exception to because there are other choices available. Taking a job, expecting full pay, and then not doing it with excellence is dishonest to the core.
Another option is that you can agree to do the work BUT tell your employer you want to get paid more or negotiate a better position that you feel is fair. As an employer, I would find that very reasonable, and I would prefer this all day long over someone silently resenting me and the responsibilities they’ve agreed to do, half-assing the job and lowering the quality of what we deliver to our clients, creating more work for others in the organization and disappointing our clients. If I can’t pay them their asking wage or give them the terms they want, then we may need to part ways, but that’s an honest exchange that gives both parties the opportunity to find a better fit.
Another option is that you can openly and honestly quit and go find an employer that isn’t as demanding, with better work conditions, doing something that you actually like putting a full effort into.
Now that I’ve hopefully clarified my position, I’d like to address your choice of words and your intention. First, your description of my work as “insipid.”
By definition, “insipid” is boring, unexciting, and lacking interest. I can assure you that, while you may have found my article dull, many found it interesting and insightful. It gave me a lot of play online, and many paying clients liked it and went out of their way to tell me so. Therefore, I’d say I’m right on the money. To each their own, of course, and you’re perfectly entitled to your opinion.
The second is your need to point out that you are a behavioral scientist. Obviously, you prefaced your insult to me with that little tidbit of information as a means of justifying your opinion that you’re more qualified than the average schmuck walking around. Further, your comment “I thought you were better than that” is a statement of superiority – the statement of an adult to a child. It smacks of the Hillary “basket of deplorables” insult. Because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a lesser being.
What exactly were you attempting to accomplish with such a condescending drive-by statement? Did you think I’d see the error of my ways, fall to my knees and grovel for your approval and forgiveness? Do you really believe having a degree gives you the right to a more qualified opinion in THIS matter of employee-employer relationships than I? And you thought I was “better than that.” Better than what, exactly? Aligning with your personal opinions on work ethic?
You see, degreed or not, I have a right to an opinion on this topic. Let me tell you MY qualifications. First, I’m one of the unique individuals in our country who has started a business from scratch, and I’ve employed hundreds of people for the last 20 years. I employ nearly 100 people now, and that number is growing. This puts me into the category of less than 10% of all employers, which also means I’m a category of 0.1% of the entire population.
Prior to that, I worked for over a dozen different employers and know firsthand what it’s like to work for an organization that craps on its employees, refuses to pay bonuses that were promised, has a culture that allows for sexual abuse and discrimination, and has horrible management – not to mention being rife with office politics and backstabbing – and one in which “personal favors,” not hard work, get you the promotion or raise.
Early in my life, I scrubbed toilets, picked up dirty laundry, cleaned up horrible messes for others and did what many would consider “lowly” work, cleaning people’s homes. Never once did I resent those people for giving me the work, nor did I ever not give the job 110%. Why? Because of my own personal standards of work ethics. In every job I’ve ever taken, I’ve never done just enough to get by or the minimum, and I firmly believe I’m a better person for it. I’ve never “quietly” quit. I’ve actually quit and given the job my best right up to the moment I walked out. I hold myself to a higher standard, and it gives me personal pride, confidence, and a backbone to go and get the compensation, work environment, and appreciation I want.
Let me finish by pointing out that doing meaningless work and intentionally doing the minimum to get a paycheck has to be the saddest existence for a human being. Why anyone would encourage this or applaud it is beyond me. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by promoting this type of behavior. If you sanction incompetence, laziness and disdain for honesty, you get more of the same. Right now, such behaviors are spreading like stinkweed in a garden – and as your comment proves, so are a lack of civility and good manners.
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